If you ever start to feel like you know everything, I’d encourage you to hang around a teenager for about 15 minutes so you can have a reality check.
Or a vibe check.
I have no idea what a vibe check means, but I’m pretty sure it’s not a good thing.
When you have a teenager, every day is a losing battle of some kind, where you are trying to assert yourself as being right.
“Why do you think I am always wrong?” my son asked. “Is it because I am a teenager?”
“Did it ever occur to you that maybe I know a little bit here because I have years of experience?” is my response.
“Maybe you’ve just been doing something wrong for several years,” he counters. “You’ve always said you hate when someone says ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it.’ Isn’t this the same thing?”
Why, oh why, does this child only listen to me when I say things he can throw back in my face during an argument.
“I am only saying that maybe I am right because I am older and have been through this a time or two,” I said.
“Still sounds the same to me,” he said. “And just because you’re older doesn’t mean it is right. Just like I am not wrong because I am younger.”
I was exhausted and all I could think of was my mother darn well better get that attorney in the family she always wanted out of this child.
We go ‘round and round with these trivial debates, with them sometimes leading to bigger debates. You’d think we’d be standing on a platform with a news anchor moderating.
There are times I feel like my child is being disrespectful, but I know
Or at least I hope he’s not.
When I was his age, I had a stubborn, argumentative streak as well and it reared its head constantly.
In fact, when I try telling Mama how this child will argue with me about stuff, she gets downright giddy.
“I’m glad you find this humorous,” I told her one day.
“Well, you’ve just got to understand,” she began between her snorts of
laughter. “You were a horrible little teenager.”
“What?” I exclaimed. “That’s a terrible thing to say!”
“Well, you were,” she stated. “You didn’t do anything bad. But Lord have mercy, that mouth of yours. You were just awful. My perfectly sweet little Kitten turned into a monster practically overnight.”
I did no such of a thing.
The crazy redhead was evidently not remembering my teen years correctly; she had that kind of selective memory. It also gave her a false impression she had been a great cook at some point in my youth.
Trust me when I say this, she wasn’t.
“Well, I didn’t have the power
of the internet to fact check you and send it to you via text,” I retorted.
“Even if you had, the first thing I took away from you was your phone. And that’s what I would do now if I had a teenager.”
My mother couldn’t handle the modern teenager – I barely can and mine is really a good one.
“Just trust me, all teenagers can be horrible people,” she reiterated. “You definitely were. And you relapse into it every now and then.”
I don’t believe for one second my child is a horrible person and Mama doesn’t believe it either, despite her broad-brush way of claiming all teenagers are. He just has this maddening desire to always be right and will argue his points continually.
He does not let up even a little.
And he refuses to accept the fact you may know something because you’ve had way more experience – like decades worth – doing stupid stuff.
I talked to my therapist about it.
“Maybe he doesn’t feel like he’s being heard,” she suggested.
“I hear him,” I said. “He’s right there raising his voice octaves above mine. Kind of hard not to.”
She smiled. “You know what I mean. Not audibly hear him but hear him in the sense you are really listening to him.”
I started thinking about how many times I tried telling my mother something when I was a teen. She would listen to me, even when it was something pretty crazy, like how I was going to grow up and sit in a coffee shop and write for a living, but it was okay because I was going to marry Prince or Keanu Reeves. She’d listen and ask questions.
Questions that let me know she was listening and that usually got me thinking.
Listening gave me the opportunity to be wrong – quite often, as a matter of a fact – but it also gave me the freedom to be right too.
Usually when my child was arguing, his main issue was that I wasn’t
acknowledging what he had to say. Instead, I was trying to point out the errors
of what he was saying and telling him how I knew better.
Son of a biscuit eater.
A few days later, we were in a store, picking up a few things. Somehow, I had misplaced the glasses that are normally perpetually on top of my head and could not make out some of the prices.
I commented that something was a bit overpriced.
“Mom – do you think it is $4.24 for one?” Cole asked.
“Yes, that’s what the price says.”
“No, it’s one for $2.44 – they just used the number four.”
I looked at it again.
“Oh, I did misread it,” I said apologetically. “You were right.”
“What?” he stopped in the middle of the aisle to look at me gobsmacked.
“I said you were right.”
“Finally,” he said. “That’s all I wanted.”Even in something so small and insignificant, maybe he did just want to be heard.